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5 things to know before you hire a mini excavator

What is a mini excavator?

Small in size but mighty in power, the mini excavator is one of the most widely used excavation tools on residential builds. The three main sections of the machine are; the house - which allows you to operate and power the machine, the undercarriage - which allows you to move the machine, and the arm - which allows you to perform the excavation. Weighing just 1- 2 tonnes compared to the standard 10-15 tonnes, the mini excavator offers extensive mobility, stability and durability for tight and restricted spaces. On top of this, the rubber tracks found beneath the undercarriage can handle wet and muddy terrain, unlike wheeled skid steers.

When you should use a mini excavator

As we mentioned above, the compact size of the mini excavator makes it highly desirable for a wide range of residential and commercial construction projects. These tasks could include:

  • Digging for a pool or spa installation

  • Demoing small buildings

  • Repairing sewer lines

  • Landscaping projects

  • General digging projects

Safety considerations for a mini excavator

To safely operate a mini digger, you must ensure the following:

  • Understand How to Operate the Machine

  • Complete a ‘Dial-before-you-dig’ by calling 1100. This enquiry will assess whether or not they are any utility lines underneath your project. The cost to repair this damage can be extremely high so we definitely recommend this step.

  • Clear the area of surface rocks and large debris

  • Pay attention to your surroundings and ensure no bystanders are near

  • Wear protective gear

How to use a mini excavator

  1. Climb into the excavator and put your seatbelt on. If the cab is enclosed, close the safety door.

  2. Start the machine by turning the key in the ignition and checking the fuel level.

  3. Check for any warning lights. Once checked, disengage the safety lock.

  4. Use the joystick located to your right to raise (pulling the joystick back) and lower (pushing the joystick forward) the boom. By pushing this joystick to the left and right, you’ll also have control of the bucket. To open it, push the joystick to the right. To close it, push the joystick to the left.

  5. Use the joystick located to your left to raise (pulling the joystick back) and lower (pushing the joystick forward) the arm. To move the arm out, push the joystick forward. To move the arm back in, pull the joystick back towards you. The left joystick also controls the cab, do this by moving the joystick to the left or right.

  6. To drive the excavator around, ensure that the boom, arm and bucket are up and then press the pedals on the floor to move.

  7. Turn the machine off and switch on the safety lock once you’ve completed your excavation task.

Transporting a mini excavator

To safely and legally operate your mini excavator, it’s important that you know how to correctly load and secure your machine.

  1. Understand your load limitations and familiarise yourself with the key specifications of your equipment. Items to check include the transport weight of your machine, trailer specifications and payload capacity, and the towing capacity of your towing vehicle.

  2. Prepare your trailer and transport vehicle by; properly securing your trailer to your towing vehicle and parking both the vehicle and trailer on flat ground.

  3. To load your machine, lower the ramps and position the excavator behind the trailer with the blade facing forwards along the centre line of the vehicle. Rotate the house of the machine so it is facing towards the back of the trailer. Ensure the boom is lowered enough that the bucket is sitting on the floor of the trailer, the machine is turned off and the battery isolated is switched to ‘OFF’.

  4. To secure your machine to the trailer, attach ratchet straps from each corner of the excavator to your trailer attachment points. Use an additional strap to secure the bucket. Check tension a final time before starting your journey.

Get In Touch

Ready to tackle your excavation works? Contact us to hire the right mini excavator for your project.


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